Canon species are kind of why we are here in the first place. Hence Boldly Reading brings forth another interesting prompt!
Writing Canon Species
Do you use canon species in your writing? Do you select a species for any particular purpose? E. g. do you add a Klingon during the TOS time period because of the inherent conflict, or a Trill into a DS9-era story because of respect for the character of Dax? When putting together your cast of characters, is species diversity at issue?
For canon alien species that are not well-known, how have you given more detail to their back stories and characteristics? For those that are better-known, how have you made them your own?
Is there a canon species that you have not added to your fan fiction, but you are considering adding? How will you do that?
Whose canon alien species characters do you like the most? Do you think the character is true to the species? If the character differs from established species canon, is the difference reasonable? If the character is of a species with only a sketchy background, does the author’s vision work within the limited framework established by canon? Can the author’s changes and coloring within the lines fit with how the species was originally drawn? Would you have taken that mysterious though canon species in a different direction? If so, how?
I will use canon species when I feel they serve a particular purpose. Sometimes the purpose is to keep canon characters in canon-extension stories (e. g. the E2 stories). And so I include characters like T’Pol or Soval. The number of canon species hitting the ENT era has limits. I do enjoy the Xindi in all of their forms but usually the image is fleeting, like that of the dead Insectoid, She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time.
One area that I truly enjoy is to bring together canon species in a manner that is different from usual, or to bring more minor canon species to the fore.
Suliban, Vulcans, and Enolians
Only seen in ENT, the Suliban have a somewhat stratified society.
On the one side, you’ve got the cabal, which was a part of the less than successfully portrayed Temporal Cold War.
On the other, you’ve got prisoners, such as in the Detained episode. That episode, which was relatively similar to the following season’s Canamar episode, was some of the fodder for the Eriecho stories.
Eriecho would be a Vulcan, born on the way to Canamar, and the only other female in the entire prison would be a Suliban, H’Shema. H’Shema would be the only mother that Eriecho would ever know, And Eriecho would mourn her for a long time afterwards. Enough so that Eriecho would seek H’Shema’s family rather than her own Vulcan roots. H’Shema, a former addict and a thief, is only present in the haze of Eriecho and Saddik’s memories. But she was clearly loved, and she equally clearly rose up from her difficult and messy past to become a wonderful mother to a lonely, frightened and isolated child. Eriecho never forgets this.
And, because this is Canamar, the Commandant of the prison is an Enolian.
Ikaarans and Imvari
With nearly nothing to go on, Ikaarans could be nearly anything. All that was in canon was the look and personality of Karyn Archer. However, she’s a hybrid with humans, and possibly with others. For the E2 stories, it was great fun to be able to give them something of a culture. They would have a click language. Their planet would be grossly overpopulated, but they wouldn’t believe in birth control.
Much like Carthaginian child sacrifices, their youth would be subject to selection. But instead of being chosen for a fire pit, they would be chosen to serve for a few years off the planet. Young Ikaarans would go out to mine or grow crops or otherwise contribute to obtaining resources for their overextended world. Their ships would be single-sex, so as to crudely prevent conception. They were able to fulfill tons of purposes within that set of stories.
The Imvari were never named, and were only shown once, in Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country.
All we know about this alien is that he’s huge and his genitalia are in the vicinity of his knees.
Being able to give the Imvari a background as a mercenary species, with an athlete in the upcoming Barnstorming series, gave them the opportunity to fill some niches and get some love. Hell, I even name them!
Cardassians, Gorn and Xindi Reptilians
Sometimes character species would come together in the context of a romance. For the Bron and Sophra romance, I liked the idea of giving a Gorn feelings and behaviors that no one would unexpect. The Gorn would love the Cardassian. But his friends, including Xindi Reptilian Tr’Dorna, would scorn his selection of a ‘warmie‘, and would instead push him to not date outside of a reptile-like species.
Andorians and Aenar
Turning the idea of a delicate Aenar to a different purpose, Jhasi Tantharis was always intended as a tragic figure. And before her, the infant Andorian Erell is another tragic figure, destined to never see the end of her first day, as an act of defiance and possibly a bit of perverse love by her enslaved parents.
Klingons and Breen
For both of these rather hostile species, I was looking to have them play against type. Hence the most stable relationship in Intolerance is a Klingon marriage. And teenage Breen actor, Desh, is a sensitive leading man – forget that you can’t see his face. This is a Phantom of the Opera if you must.
Xyrillians, Tellarites and Trill
Often seen in passing, all three species get a little extra exposure, including the sight of a female Tellarite, Cympia Triff.
In addition to Reptilians, above, Xindi hit most of my series. And they get some extra detail. This includes the Insectoids being referred to in a genderless fashion until they breed, and then being referred to as female (e. g. The One Who Fires a Weapon Very Fast versus She Who Listens Well). The sloth (primates) get a matronymic naming convention. Hence Aranda Chara is daughter to her mother, Chara Sika.
The Kitchen Sink
Denobulans mainly show up in the context of Phlox. Caitians, on the other hand, show up as a part of the ramping up of the Federation.
Ferengi and Betazoids currently only show up in the deep future, as a part of HG Wells. Q, Tau Alphans and Orions are pretty much only in cameos, but an Orion-Betazoid hybrid will show up in the Barnstorming series.
Who to Add?
I don’t honestly know. I’ve added most of the main species that I know of, and to add others would be either for the sake of novelty or to branch out into another area entirely, e. g. Voyager. Adding Ocampan characters is all well and good, but if I don’t really know how the character should behave, it’s difficult to draw a convincing portrait. And this is so even when the individual is apparently playing against type.
Others’ Canon Species Work
I particularly like how Jean-Luc Picard handles Vorta. From their devotion to the Founders, to their loyalty to the Dominion, to their sometimes wondering if things are as rosy as the Founders say, Eris and Liska pursue and promote Vorta ideals. But it’s in their personal lives that these characters shine, particularly as they often play against type.
One of the ways you know it’s Star Trek is in the presence of canon species. Even an OC-rich environment like the HG Wells stories is loaded with canon species and hybrid canon species.
Otherwise, it’s just another time travel montage. But with Ferengi and the like, it becomes Star Trek.